|Egypt and Tunisia:
The artistic revolution in the Middle East
|“This was a very artistic revolution,” Noor Ayman Nour, son of a famous dissident Egyptian politician and founder of the Egyptian metal band Bliss, told Andy Morgan — a writer, journalist, researcher and event programmer with a background in the music industry who has written an interesting article about the role of music in the Middle Eastern struggle for democracy, published in The Observer on 27 February 2011.
The article describes the music censorship, and how Egypt’s metal heads lived in fear of arrest, before the revolution in the country, and it is dedicated to the memory of artist and musician Ahmed Bassiouni, who died in Cairo on 28 January 2011 from injuries sustained fighting the police and government militias.
In the article, Andy Morgan puts words to the newly gained musical freedom in Egypt in this way:
Fear of arrest
He talks with Mark LeVine, author of the recently published book ‘Heavy Metal Islam’ and the Freemuse report on heavy metal, who confirms to him that in those days, “the consequences of speaking out could be pretty dire.”
“We were like in a cocoon,” explains Skander Besbes, also known as Skndr, a luminary of Tunisia’s electro and dance scene, “Closed in on ourselves, ignoring the regime and the authorities. You’re angry, but you move on, because you don’t know what to do…”
Tunisia: rap song started shock waves
On 7 November 2010, El Général uploaded a piece of raw fury called ‘Rais Le Bled’ (President, Your Country) on to Facebook. Within hours, the song had lit up the bleak and fearful horizon like an incendiary bomb. Before being banned, it was picked up by local tv station Tunivision and al-Jazeera. El Général’s MySpace was closed down, his mobile cut off. But it was too late. The shock waves were felt across the country and then throughout the Arab world. That was the power of protesting in Arabic, albeit a locally spiced dialect of Arabic. El Général’s bold invective broke frontiers and went viral from Casablanca to Cairo and beyond. (…)
El Général’s rap broke the spell of fear and showed his peers that it was possible to rebel and survive. Rap’s power is its simplicity.”
Prohibited songs broadcasted
The artists Aly El Haggar and Mohamed Mounir were also highly censored. The newspaper mentions Aly El Haggar’s ‘Hona El Kahera’ (We are all Cairo) and Mohamed Mounir’s ‘El Khawaga Ebn Mareeka’ (The foreigner, the son of Mareeka) as examples of this.
|Read the article
The Observer / The Guardian – 27 February 2011:
‘From fear to fury: how the Arab world found its voice’
Ahram Online – 1 March 2011:
‘Al Shorouk: The revolution brings back banned songs’
Time – 15 February 2011:
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